5 things to watch as Giants face Seahawks in Week 8 of 2022 NFL season

Saquon Barkley Daniel Jones close hug vs Jaguars
Saquon Barkley Daniel Jones close hug vs Jaguars

Let’s call Giants-Seahawks the Way, Way Above Expectations Bowl, shall we? Maybe it doesn’t roll off the tongue. But it’s apt, considering that there’s no chance anyone in football would’ve believed the Giants would be 6-1 and Seattle 4-3 – behind Geno Smith, no less – at this point in an entertaining season.

And, get this: Their meeting in Seattle is the only game of Week 8 featuring two teams with winning records. Kickoff is 4:25 p.m. ET.

Of course, one team must tumble here. Which one?

Here are 5 things to watch in Week 8 that might dictate that:

Geno genie?

Smith is perhaps best remembered by Giants fans as that quarterback who started in place of Eli Manning that one time. Now, however, he’s rewriting his NFL story as he finally gets another chance to start. Russell Wilson’s replacement is leading the NFL with a 73.5 completion percentage, which is the fifth-highest over a team’s first seven games of a season since 1970. He leads the NFC in passer rating (107.7, third overall, behind only Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen), has 1,712 yards passing (seventh) and has thrown 11 touchdown passes (sixth) against only three interceptions.

Oct 23, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith (7) sets to pass the ball in the first half against the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium.
Oct 23, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith (7) sets to pass the ball in the first half against the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium.

Asked this week to name another quarterback with this kind of out-of-nowhere breakout, Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale brought up Hall-of-Famer Kurt Warner.

“I don’t know if they’ll make a movie with Geno, but as a football fan, I really respect what he’s done with his game,” Martindale added.

DK Metcalf, a dangerous target, won’t play because of a knee injury, but the Giants better cover Tyler Lockett, who was limited in practice because of a hamstring issue.

Who gets the run of the place?

The Giants are averaging 173.4 rushing yards per game, second in the NFL, and both Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones rushed for 100-plus last week. Sending Barkley, who is second in the NFL with 726 yards, and Jones, whose 343 yards ranks third among quarterbacks, against Seattle’s defense might be a key area for the Giants to exploit.

The Seahawks are allowing 149.7 yards per game on the ground (tied for 29th). But last week held the Chargers to 53 yards rushing, so perhaps they are settling in.

Who gets the run of the place 2, the sequel:

With Rashaad Penny injured, Kenneth Walker III has emerged as a force for the Seahawks rushing attack. The rookie from Michigan State ran for 168 yards and two touchdowns last week, the most yards in a game by any rookie so far this season.

“Has all the qualities you look for in a good back,” Giants head coach Brian Daboll said of Walker this week. “He’s got quickness. He’s got good vision. He’s got good patience. He can take it the distance. I’ve been very impressed with him, watching him on tape.”

Oct 23, 2022; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) runs with the ball against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the fourth quarter at TIAA Bank Field.
Oct 23, 2022; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) runs with the ball against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the fourth quarter at TIAA Bank Field.

Overall, Seattle is gaining 5.52 yards per carry, best in the league, and they have the ability to break big plays. The Giants ground defense, which is giving up 5.7 yards per carry, will be sorely tested.

Better off red?

The Giants have allowed 25 trips to the red zone this season, but only 10 times has their opponent come away with a touchdown. That means Sunday’s game features the 4th-best red-zone defense in football going against the 31st-ranked offense in those situations.

Seattle has scored a TD eight times in 22 trips to the red zone. But they are tops in points from outside the 20-yard line, which is why they are fifth in the NFL overall with 26.1 points per game.

Nick of time:

Rookie tackle Evan Neal and guard Ben Bredeson both came out of last week’s game with knee injuries and could miss time, so the return of lineman Nick Gates this week gives the Giants offensive line some needed depth. Gates suffered a terrible leg injury in Week 2 last season and his comeback from seven surgeries is a remarkable story. He has been practicing since early this month and was activated this week.

Against Jacksonville, both Joshua Ezedu and Tyre Phillips subbed for Neal and Bredeson and responded well to ramped-up action. There’s more of that coming this week. While the Seahawks are allowing 399.1 yards per game, their defense has perhaps had its best showing of the season over the last two weeks, giving up just 16.5 points per game and 644 total yards while sacking the quarterback nine times.